Still Life

By: Gustav Hoiland

Jun 10 2010

Category: china


Focal Length:50mm
Shutter:20 sec
Camera:NIKON D80
Motel 168

I just watched Lost in Translation. I heard it got mixed reviews. I’d guess most people who have studied abroad in non-English speaking countries would really like it. I am one such person. This is the closest image I could find to match up with that movie – both aesthetically and emotionally. However,  I’ll readily admit it’s far, far away from anything resembling any aspect of the movie. My software was just giving me a hard time and this happened to be in JPG format (most stuff is in an NEF prison).

Contrary to what the meta data on the left side here would like you to believe, this was not a 1 second exposure. Rather a full 20 went by (I think the code has it set to a 1 second maximum… not sure why). And for those full 20 seconds, this man on a bicycle stayed perfectly still. Look at the spokes. He did not rock back or forth. He did not turn the front wheel. He didn’t so much as move either of his feet. I think I remember walking by (tripod w/ camera attached, slung over shoulder) and noticing within the first couple of seconds of this guy arriving that he was not moving. Not a bit. And the light had just turned red on him.

What’s very cool is the fact that he’s almost entirely defined by the street behind him. Sure there’s some white in his shirt, but it’s otherwise straight silhouette. The shadow below him is a bit distorted, but that too is just a mirrored silhouette.

I think this would have made for a very cool time lapse. Then you could have seen the cars drive by. Perhaps you could even do some strange blending and trailing of the frames so that stuff would lag and be very strange whilst he stands firm.

Also, if you thought America has ugly signage, think again. That Motel 168 sign was everywhere in Shanghai, though perhaps the problem was it was always so huge. I remember now that there was also one outside my window about two blocks away. I suspect a better typeface would have saved the day.

2 comments on “Still Life”

  1. This is an awesome shot! I like the starbursting street light in the top left.

  2. And the reflection of red and white light on the pavement is cool too.

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